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University of Iowa News Release


March 21, 2007

Survey: Students Happy With College Choice But Say Drinking Remains A Problem

University of Iowa students are very happy with their decision to attend the UI, according to a survey released today by Michael J. Hogan, UI executive vice president and provost. Students cite positive experiences with faculty members, with the academic climate, and with their fellow students. The report also affirms that "a culture of drinking" remains a problem for Iowa students, with many students coming to the UI with drinking habits already established.

The report, which is the end result of the Research on Iowa Student Experiences (RISE) project, was commissioned by Hogan to gain a comprehensive picture of undergraduate life at the UI. It was conducted during the 2005-06 academic year by faculty and research assistants in the UI Center for Research on Undergraduate Education.

Hogan says the report is part of a larger, ongoing data-gathering effort aimed at improving the undergraduate experience at Iowa.

"As with any effort to improve strategically, the first step is to really know where you stand," Hogan said. "In the case of undergraduate education, we need to understand as well as we can what's working for our students as they move through their undergraduate years, and what challenges are getting in their way. The RISE report is a very comprehensive study and gives us a lot of the data that we need."

The project investigated areas of student life both in and out of the classroom. Among its positive findings: students report constructive experiences with teachers, both in and out of the classroom. For the most part, they describe their teachers as "outstanding," "approachable," and "genuinely interested" in their students. They also find the academic climate at the UI "challenging," saying that it requires "serious intellectual effort." They find the student community friendly and welcoming, with many opportunities for involvement. Overall, students report being very happy with their decision to attend the UI.

Among the more negative findings, the report affirms that "a culture of drinking" is a serious problem for Iowa students. Moreover, the data suggest that many students arrive at the UI with drinking habits already established.

Tom Rocklin, associate provost for undergraduate education, says that the RISE report and other data will become part of the yearlong self-study the UI is conducting as part of the process of reaccreditation by the Higher Learning Commission. That process, he says, will lead to specific recommendations for improving the undergraduate experience at the UI.

"The in-depth work we're doing now will help us arrive at strategies that build on our strengths and that address areas of real concern," Rocklin said. "But we already know a lot. We know, for instance, that three things we're doing well --learning communities, college transition courses, and good teaching -- are contributing to student retention. We're already committed to building on our success in all three of those areas."

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACT: Tom Rocklin, 319-335-3565,